When we made the decision to homeschool the girls, we had already started the licensing process for fostering. Since we were planning on getting infants, it didn’t occur to us to ask many questions about homeschooling foster children. However, after we were licensed we learned that in the state of NJ, we are not allowed to homeschool any foster placements. They must be enrolled in the local public school district where we live. I don’t agree with that, but I do realize that each case worker oversees at least a dozen children, and while many of the state foster guidelines are very rigid, I see that for the *masses* it makes sense to have a blanket rule.
Don’t get me started on that, though
Since we foster babies, we don’t have to worry about teaching them school. What we do deal with is having new baby interruptions every time we get a placement. For those that have had babies and homeschool, you know how disruptive that can be. In our case, instead of the baby growing and staying the our family we constantly get new babies and some times it feels like we start all over again.
Here are some ways that we work through school when a new placement arrives:
* We take a break from regular school routine. The girls need to see the new baby, the new baby has to get used to a new environment, and we need to get used to losing sleep all over again.
* Since most placements require more medical appointments than healthy babies, we take the opportunity to learn on the road. When the girls accompany me to a visitation or medical appointment I make sure that we are learning something new each time.
* We use a flexible school schedule. Right now we do school in the mornings from 9-11:30am four days a week, but when we have to juggle that time with appointments we can move school to the afternoon if we have to.
*I try to have a lot of extra manipulatives and educational DVDs on hand when I need to concentrate on the baby. The girls are old enough to do matching, puzzles, lacing, etc on their own without my help. We also have some fun DVDs from Modern Marvels, The History Channel, and Master Books which are perfect when I have a case worker visiting.
*Whenever possible I stick with our routine. I try very hard to schedule any appointments, field trips, visits around that 9-11:30am time block.
When you foster, you have to be flexible – and if you homeschool while you foster you need to be creative with your time. The best thing about homeschooling is that our kids can learn anywhere doing anything, and fostering has forced us to step out of the school *box* that we were in and helped us see that!
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a letter that I’ve written to Baby S’s birth mom.